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Australia becomes a first winner with China link


Australia's victory in Saturday's Investec Derby at Epsom Downs was the first time in the 235th running of the famous race that a Malaysian owner reached the winner's podium.

Teo Ah Khing is an architect who designed the fabulous grandstand at Meydan in Dubai, but he is also a founder of the China Horse Club, a private club for Chinese interests with horseracing at its core. Teo has become friendly with John Magnier and other Coolmore interests through his growing involvement in racing, and when offered a chance to share in Australia he jumped at the chance.

He said: "This is the first time there has been any Chinese representation in the Derby and today's victory is wonderful for both Coolmore and the China Horse Club.

"This win will make sure a lot of Chinese and Asian interests will pay special attention to this famous race. My heart was beating very fast as the horses came down the straight.

"Now we all hope he continues to become a great racehorse, and one day a great stallion.

"This is my first time at Epsom, and the atmosphere is electric. It's very different and there's a charm to that. It's fantastic - now I look forward to visiting Royal Ascot."

Outstanding trainer Aidan O'Brien saddled a record third successive Investec Derby winner today, and his fifth in total.

After Australia - a son of Derby winner Galileo out of Oaks victress Ouija Board - had landed the 235th running of the race under O'Brien's son Joseph, the winning trainer said: "It's special to train three successive Derby winners, but we are very lucky to have such well-bred horses to handle - that's the reality of it. With the bloodlines we have we are lucky. When the lads brought this horse from the sales we thought he was very good and he had the pedigree to go with it.

"He's a very special horse with class and speed. There's a lot of stamina in his pedigree, but everyone saw the speed today. We couldn't be sure he would get a mile and a half because he has shown himself to be so speedy, but Joseph was going to ride him safe and confidently and that's what he did."

"This horse has kept standing up to the mark and we've never been disappointed - it's great to be here.

"We're going through a tricky time at home with the horses, because they are not all running well - they were sick and on medication in the spring, and when you train them back after that it's not always straightforward. They can run very bad as well as very good, but we're delighted with this horse today.

"A long time ago we thought he was very special - we wanted to be here with him, but you can never be sure because there are so many variables. Things can go wrong, so big credit to everyone at home."

When asked about Australia's name, part-owner John Magnier said: "My wife does the naming, she's in charge of that side of things and she's Australian. We have a business and the stud in Australia so I suppose the idea was that we'd wait to have a good horse to give the name to and he might stand as a stallion there."

Part-owner Michael Tabor added: "We bought him at the sales for a considerable amount of money (525,000 guineas). It's not so much my input but the guys at Coolmore - Demi (O'Byrne) and Paul (Shanahan) - who loved the horse very much. He was top of their list to buy and so we got him."

Part-owner Derrick Smith, whose son Paul owned runner-up Kingston Hill, added: "I was lucky to see his last piece of work, which was very exciting, and after that my confidence rose. The data that we get supplied with, I speak to Aidan and I speak to Joseph and make up my own mind."

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